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Newcastle’s hopes of signing Fulham’s French midfielder Steed Malbranque received a significant boost as West Ham completed the signing of Lee Bowyer yesterday.

Malbranque is one of Glenn Roeder’s top summer transfer targets and the Magpies saw one of their leading competitors for the 26 year-old midfielder drop out of the race after finalising a deal for Bowyer to return to Upton Park. According to the Evening Chronicle, Roeder reckons that Newcastle’s major rivals for Malbranque’s signature are now Everton, who have held a longstanding interest in the former Lyon playmaker.

Roeder also wants to deploy Malbranque’s former Fulham captain Lee Clark, who moved back to St. James’ Park this summer after being released at the end of his Craven Cottage contract, to persuade the Frenchman to make the move to the north east.